Disney, Live Action, News

‘The Lion King’ Remake Full Cast Revealed!

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Disney has just announced the full cast for the upcoming not-actually-live-action remake of The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau hot off the success of the remake of The Jungle Book.

As previously announced, Donald Glover, who will next be seen as Lando Calrissian in Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, will voice Simba, while James Earl Jones will reprise his role from the original film as Mufasa — the only actor from the original film set to return for the remake as far as we know.

As for the rest of the cast, Beyoncé will indeed voice Nala, as has been rumored for some time. She previously starred in Dreamgirls and the animated film Epic and was reportedly offered a role in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, which she denied.

Chiwetel Ejiofor will step in for Jeremy Irons as Scar, and Alfre Woodard will voice Sarabi. Both actors have recently appeared in Disney-Marvel properties: Ejiofor in Doctor Strange, and Woodard in Luke Cage on Netflix. Hugh Jackman was previously (incorrectly) reported to voice Scar.

A young actor by the name of JD McCrary will voice young Simba, and Shahadi Wright Joseph, who has actually performed in The Lion King on Broadway, will voice young Nala. McCrary currently appears in Tyler Perry’s The Paynes on OWN.

John Kani, another Disney-Marvel alum, has been cast as Rafiki, while actor-comedians John Oliver, Seth Rogen, and Billy Eichner will provide the voices of Zazu, Timon, and Pumbaa, respectively. The hyenas will be voiced by Eric André (Azizi), Florence Kasumba (Shenzi), and Keegan-Michael Key (Kamari). Kasumba will next appear in Black Panther. Key is best known for his work on the sketch series Key & Peele on Comedy Central, but he’s gone on to do quite a lot of voice acting, with roles in animated films like The LEGO MovieHotel Transylvania 2The Angry Birds MovieStorks, and The Star.

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I think it goes without saying that this is a stellar cast. I have to say, though, that I wish Jeremy Irons were reprising his role as Scar here. He brought a lot to that character in the original film, and I think it’s odd to recast Scar but not Mufasa. I would maybe have liked to see some other actors from the original film return, like Nathan Lane or Whoopi Goldberg, but I’m not particularly upset about any of the new casting.

So, there you have it. The Lion King remake is moving full steam ahead, whether we really want it or not. I’m not sure if this is a movie I want to be remade, but I’m interested in seeing what Disney and Jon Favreau do with it. And if it doesn’t work out, well, we’ll always have the original. Hakuna matata.

The “re-imagined” Lion King will be released in theaters on July 19, 2019.

What do you think of the cast for the new Lion King? Are remakes the circle of life? Are you working on your roar? Sound off in the comments!

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About Angelo Thomas

Angelo Thomas is a screenwriter, aspiring filmmaker, and pop culture enthusiast. In addition to writing for Rotoscopers, he writes for The Royal Blog of Oz and guest hosts The Royal Podcast of Oz. Angelo was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently studying Film & Video in Columbus, Ohio at the Columbus College of Art & Design, where he has also worked as an assistant in Marketing & Communications. His favorite film of all time is The Wizard of Oz, which has influenced much of his personal and professional work. In terms of his love for animation, Tangled and Frozen aren't just great animated films in his opinion — they're some of the best films ever made. Angelo is always prepared to give and defend his opinions when it comes to film and animation, which he often does on social media. He can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr @imangelothomas.
  • Jordan Briskin

    So, they changed Banzai and Ed into Azizi and Kamari… That’s a new twist, at least…

    • The other positive I see from this is that it firmly establishes This remake as being it’s own continuity. I don’t have to worry about this remake stepping on The originals paws.

      • JamScoBal

        But it has to step on the original’s paws since it is a remake. I still think that this film is still a mistake since there really isn’t anything that needs to be improved from the original. It does have to be unique in its own way and also has to stay true to the original but the name changes are odd. I guess Ed was too american of a name but it does imply the dull intelligence of the character which Azizi does not (and I know it translate to something to the effect). The name just doesn’t sound dumb out side of Africa. And to change Banzai’s name is completely mental. It is Swahili for skulk or lurk which worked just fine. It is useless changes like these that makes me question the quality of the upcoming movie. I don’t care if the cast makes sense or not. The story is the most important part of the film and a remake needs good changes and not weird ones. Sorry but these changes are dumb and you can’t tell me otherwise.

        • I can’t staunchly defend this movie. I don’t feel it is needed either. It is more a case of were getting it so I hope it is at least good. Which it very well could be. I didn’t think it was necessary to change the names either, but I’m looking for positive angles to look at it from.

  • Firecat

    I just hope it’s great! Honestly, I think no one can replace Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Rowan Atkinson, and Jeremy Irons. They really defined their characters with their voices. Nonetheless, I have hope in these aspiring new stars that they will do their best to make it great.

  • Chelsea Warner

    Why did they change the male hyenas’ names? Are they different characters?

    • Jerrico

      I can’t absolutely confirm this, but I’m suspect Disney Americanize their names and now they are going back to the original names. Ed doesn’t really fit in with Simba and Nala and Zazu. Though Jordan is saying that Banzai was the others name, which doesn’t really match that theory.

      • Chelsea Warner

        It’s based on Hamlet.

  • Jerrico

    “He brought a lot to that character in the original film, and I think it’s odd to recast Scar but not Mufasa”

    It wouldn’t really match the casting theme. Plus Scar was a different color from the rest of the lions, in the first film at least, perhaps they changed that but I’m assuming they didn’t. So making the oddly colored lion that nobody likes be the only lion played by a white guy, well….it might be viewed by some as depicting the lions as racists.

  • Harith Sami

    John Oliver is a very interesting choice for Zazu, Seth Rogen is a strange choice, and it was a waste not casting Jeremy Irons again.

  • Manuel Orozco

    Shahadi Wright Joseph reprising Nala sounds even more surreal than James Earl Jones with Mufasa. I saw her last year as Little Inez in NBC’s Hairspray Live and her voice wasn’t bad at all. However, I’m still not getting vibes from this idea of a live action remake. I rather see Aladdin

    • Jeremiah

      I believe we’re getting Aladdin. 🙂 Looking forward to that.

      • Manuel Orozco

        My point exactly. Besides I preferred Aladdin Mulan and Hercules out of all the others Disney Animation gave us in the 90’s.

  • Jerrico

    Secondly, this is Disney. They have more money than God. Couldn’t they make real talking lions and mermaids and such instead of spending that money on digital animation. I suppose the animation unions and actor guilds wouldn’t like that. 😉

  • Alex Beezley

    I’m not a big Seth Rogen fan, but hopefully he’ll bring the humor and warmth that Ernie Sabella gave Pumbaa in the original.

  • Jeremiah

    JAJ back as Mufasa, that’s cool. The few actors I know please me. For whatever reason I know barely any of these guys. Mostly, I’m just excited John Oliver is voicing Zazu. Did NOT see that coming. That is gold.

  • Sebastian

    I kind of see this like how that show Once Upon A Time handles their re-tellings. And since it’s happening there really isn’t any worth to think otherwise. Although I find this to be rather (safe) from a casting point of view. I would have liked to see new talents at least. I just can’t see Donald Glover as Simba in my head. Simba as an adult is supposed to be traumatized, insecure and stubborn with good intentions not a rapper who’s like “Hey Scar, yo wanna fight?” After I saw him in that Spider-Man film I almost fell asleep at his performance. And Beyonce isn’t much of an actress after what Ive seen but ok. What’s done is done but at least the 1994 film will remain just like BAB. And after just re-watching the 1994 feature I thought the voice work was actually really impressive.

  • Honestly don’t know what really they could add to this as a “live action” adaptation but this cast really is super stellar here! I’m remaining hopeful 🙂

  • It’s a solid cast. Am I excited for this movie? Well, I guess
    it’s wait and see. I will decide once the trailer comes out.

  • Well we don’t really need this remake, but I am cautiously optimistic about what they will do differently in this version. When it come to the story. Also Sarafina is no om this list so either she is not in this movie, has no line at all this time, or they felt it was unnecessary to get a big name for a one line character. One thing I do know is even if this remake is hugely successful. Nothing will ever surpass the original.

  • Yellow

    This sounds like a pretty good cast. I just wonder how well the voices will fit with the characters, because hyper-real CG animation looks and feels quite different from 2D, lip-syncing wise.

  • Priyam

    I’m refraining from making any judgements on the remake until we see some actual material, but the cast seems good. However, I agree that recasting Scar seems a little weird (not that I dislike Chiwetel Ejiofor, I think he’ll be great), since Jeremy Irons’ voice is just as iconic to that character as James Earl Jones’ is to Mufasa. I have faith that Jon Favreau can pull it off though, because I thought The Jungle Book was great.

    However, I didn’t like Beauty and the Beast at all because I thought it was just a carbon copy with some random changes that didn’t go anywhere (like Belle being an inventor. They made a huge deal out of that during press and then it was barely mentioned in the film). So, I’m a little worried that the success of the original Lion King will mean they’re reluctant to change too much. I grew up with the original and have a ton of nostalgia for it, but it’ll always be around for us to go back to. If they’re going to do a remake, then I hope they really go for it and make some substantial changes which create a new experience for us.

  • Yifan Wang

    Another live-action remake, just what I need